We have to remind our opinion shapers we are not animated play-doh

Dear Editor,

On Wednesday, August 23, I sat and encouraged my family to listen to a Plain Talk discussion hosted by Christopher Ram, that included Ramon Gaskin. I know both men at an informal level; Mr Gaskin and I have once before discussed WWII and the crucial Russian involvement. What intrigued me was the dishonesty of some aspects of the programme that adopted an air of certainty about aspects of the present Guyana condition.

Gaskin was the protagonist, while Ram was the antagonist. The script was closed to external interference, thus they held a fixed uninterrupted dialogue; there were no balances intended to enlighten the TV audience. The economy and the legitimate question of employment and the earning power of Guyanese were where it began. This was, however, an enticement, as no creative contribution came from Mr Gaskin, the left wing protagonist of radical socialism, as to the development of a pressure group to address the imbalances that affect current employment. For example: A- legislation to determine our dismal construction industry with bogus contractors, and low interest financing to support standard work extended to low income home buyers; B- legislation to ensure that the private security sector pays its employees properly and offers them real legal human benefits; C- that promoters and entertainment houses follow a legal framework which prohibits them from robbing others’ talent; D- that the cottage industries, cultural industries, artisans etc, be subject to serious programmes of training and soft loans with directives to replace the inferior merchandise dumped on our market.

Instead Rambo Gaskin wants to start another small party. That skit is overworked and in my home we found it disappointing. E- There was no reference made to the fact that we have lost thousands of jobs over the past thirty years to modernisation, to computers, modern shipping ‒ the stevedores are gone ‒ to new methods of construction, to the loss of the bauxite market at Linden, and the marginalisation of small pork-knockers. Then there is the monster of money laundering and the influx of illegal drug money that have, through the money-washing saturation of cheap goods, wiped out cottage industries like seamstresses and tailors. The inflation of real estate values and the impoverishment of thousands, was encouraged through indifference by the PPP.

F- Then to crime, and the inference that the president is ‘soft’ on crime; what does that translate to, more extrajudicial killings? Isn’t it obvious that most of the contract killers created by this society were one time members of this or that legal police ‘death squad’? Isn’t it a first that recently prisoners surrendered their illegal weapons and apologised to the authorities? Neither was the reference made that drug addiction has fuelled our crime rate. How many addicts are responsible for murders or were recruited for that purpose? The evidence is there, also, that lawyers and accountants do make a lot of money from the main narco players.  G- The statement by Mr Gaskin that because of the coming oil dollars the government will give up on sugar and rice is political mischief.  It echoes Mr Jagdeo, but only recently Mr Gaskin called for the immediate closure of designated sugar factories; he said that “Government cannot continue with its billions a month programme, but it must have plans for the people who will lose their jobs.” That was commendable though in the article he didn’t suggest how they should be redeployed.

The last insult was when Mr Ram asked Gaskin if he could identify anything good about the current administration, and he shrugged his shoulders and responded, “Nothing.” How could that be? When a PPP Minister had said he wouldn’t regret an epidemic in Georgetown I wrote letters complaining about the stench of human filth on Merriman Mall, and again when friends living on Hadfield Street protested the dumping of rubbish at night by trucks that were identified as coming from out of town.  Georgetown is now transformed; D’Urban Park is a development; the floods when it rains are handled better; roads look better; we know where our tax dollars are being spent. The PPP extended a billion dollars to fix GT and nothing happened.

We agree that the city council is still tremendously dysfunctional, and that there are also misfits in the coalition, but there are far fewer than in the past administration. Encouraging and easily recognizable physical and attitude changes are evident in Guyana today.

I belong to an organisation (ACDA) that has always advocated a national power-sharing government; this coalition is what we lobbied for. We must be active to ensure its success in the national interest, for this is a citizens’ right that we will not surrender, and we will make public noise when necessary.

From the Plain-Talk discussion one would believe that people in this country are either born PNC, PPP or TUF; this is unscientific and nor is it a cultural fact. Thus, we also have to be active with our ‘opinion shapers’ to remind them that we are not animated play-doh. Not most of us, at least.

Yours faithfully,

Barrington Braithwaite

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